Written by Shona Smith on Aug 25, 2021. Posted in General Interest

PGGB and British Film Commisison announce 15 participants of Inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Mentor Scheme

The Diversity and Inclusion Mentor Scheme is designed to help underrepresented talent at entry, early and experienced levels reach the next level of their career in their chosen field. It is part of PGGB’s Mission Inclusion programme (#MI21) delivered in partnership with the British Film Commission, designed by PGGB’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Group to empower production personnel to expand their networks and ensure they are hiring diverse production teams.

The scheme is aimed at individuals working in all grades and departments represented by PGGB’S membership (including production, accounts, ADs, locations, post-production and VFX supervisors and co-ordinators). 15 talented mentees have been matched with experienced industry workers selected from PGGB’s membership talent and business partners who have all worked in film and High-End TV production at a senior level.

After an exceptionally strong response to the call for applicants earlier in 2021, Professor Lyndsay Duthie, PGGB CEO says, “This first cohort spans talent of differing ages at various points in their careers, all looking to progress to the next level. For the next six months they will receive dedicated regular contact time with their mentors, who will help them hone their goals, overcome challenges and implement effective steps to help them progress along their chosen path.”

Mentor Bianca Gavin is Head of Production (Scripted Division) at Pulse Films and was previously Senior Production Executive for EU scripted originals at Amazon Studios and Production Manager for Sky Originals, where she set up the Sky Breakthrough work placement initiative for disabled new talent. She says: “I believe passionately our industry needs real action. Personally, I know that without very particular life circumstances I would not have found my way into this industry – we are missing out on talent that is crucial to our growth. My aim is to help to open the door widely, provide methods of reform to our hiring practices, expand networks, generate pathways for talent to progress and build partnerships with the many brilliant organisations and networks working in this area in the UK.”

Mentee Paul Reilly says: “I have experience at Production Assistant level and am hoping to become a successful Production Coordinator and then Manager, in the future. I have high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome which has some useful qualities for production, from my outstanding attention to detail to high determination. Despite this I’ve found getting work to progress my career difficult. I managed to get a two-week freelance job as a Production Assistant in February 2020 but when the pandemic hit, the job market became harder to break into, so I felt I was back to square one. I am determined to succeed in a job that I love and help produce high-quality content.”

The 15 mentees and their mentors are:

  • Anthony C. Green, camera operator moving into producing - Christopher Granier-Deferre, producer (Gone Too Far, Scarborough) and executive producer (County Lines, Lady Macbeth, Apostasy, The Levelling)
  • Anand Tiwari, recent graduate moving into production - Valeria Bullo, currently Project Lead for the Film and TV Charity’s Whole Picture Programme, previously Production Consultant, Protagonist Pictures and Production Executive, Pathe (Judy, Selma, Pride, Suffragette)
  • Bernadette D’Mello, Executive Assistant and Production Coordinator - Jane Soans, location manager (Brave New World, Closer, Zero Dark Thirty, Me and Orson Welles)
  • Cheyenne Conway, experienced unit production manager - Alex Boden, PGGB Chairman and producer (Cursed, Sense8, Cloud Atlas, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)
  • Darius Midcalf, entry level post-production & VFX - Dee Allen, Vice President for Artists & Client Relations (Company 3/Method Studios) and Managing Partner (No Chiefs)
  • Dawn Furness - Victoria Dabbs, line producer (Elizabeth is Missing, Our Ladies, Malevolent, Tommy's Honour)
  • Fi Lewis, emerging scripted and unscripted producer - Andy Noble, producer (Creation Stories, Killing Eve, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Extraordinary Rendition)
  • Jay Ruthnam, legal and business affairs professional moving into scripted production - Bianca Gavin, Head of Production (Scripted Division), Pulse Films (Gangs of London 2)
  • Katrina Grey, actor/writer/director moving into production - Samantha Brayson, production accountant (The Bubble, The Little Mermaid, Pennyworth, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil)
  • Michael John Kilpatrick, emerging production accountant (Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons, The Son) - Ruby Avards, financial controller (Untitled Wes Anderson project, Catherine Called Birdy, Mothering Sunday)
  • Paul Reilly, production assistant moving into production coordinating - Jacquie Glanville, Head of Production, Dancing Ledge Productions (for BBC Studios - Time, Luther, Three Girls, Dr Who)
  • Reshma Madhi, production assistant - Alice Dawson, line producer (Yardie, The North Water, The Father, Blinded by the Light)
  • Joshua Fakunmoju, gaffer moving into cinematography or directing - Mia Martell, producer (Slate and Diamonds, Take Away, Ben Hur, Dunkirk)
  • C. Hughes, early-stage producer - Christopher Granier-Deferre, executive producer (see credits above)
  • Surani Himasha Weerappulige, acquisitions, licensing and research professional from a film festival background, moving into producing - Victoria Dabbs, line producer (see credits above)

The Diversity and Inclusion Mentor Scheme is supported by the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network which is supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds as part of its Future Film Skills strategy.

Samantha Perahia, Head of Production UK, British Film Commission says: “Access to experienced crew is a vital component of any successful stage space development. This kind of initiative, which focuses on diversity and inclusion both at new entrant level and through Continuing Professional Development, is essential in ensuring that our world-class crew base continues to develop and grow. I can’t wait to see what the talented individuals chosen for this scheme do next.”

#MI21 also includes a schedule of masterclasses with leading diverse talent and campaigners to widen awareness of how to embed diversity and inclusion principles in production teams. 2021 events to date have included: a masterclasses with Marcus Ryder MBE featuring contribution from Sir Lenny Henry CBE; a masterclass with Miranda Wayland, Head of Creative Diversity at the BBC; ‘Retaining Industry Talent - Supporting Childcare’ event featuring Charlotte Riley, actor and founder of The Wonderworks and Emily Stillman, SVP Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden; and the ‘Disability Allyship in the Film and TV Industry’ event sponsored by Amazon Prime Video, featuring Tommy Jessop (Line of Duty), the first actor with Downs Syndrome to start in a prime-time BBC drama, ITV Creative Diversity Partner Samantha Tatlow and actor, presenter and disability campaigner Samantha Renke. The next event titled ‘Hiring Practices - Expanding Networks’ will take place on 2 September.



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